Friday, July 31, 2009

Protecting against H1N1 flu: Who will get vaccinated first?

Think you’ll be first in line to get the vaccine for H1N1, formerly known as swine flu, when it becomes available? Not so fast. There may be others ahead of you who are more at risk.

The experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week who should be the first to receive the new H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available. At the top of the list are:
* pregnant women,
* people living with or caring for babies younger than 6 months old,
* health care and emergency services workers,
* children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years, and
* 25- to 64-year-olds with serious health problems.

Those five groups were chosen because they have a higher risk of being infected by H1N1, developing complications from the virus and passing it onto others.

Although CDC does not expect to run out of the vaccine, the potential spread of the H1N1 virus is hard to predict and the demand may be more than the supply. If there’s a vaccine shortage, priority should be given to pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months, some health care workers, children 6 months to 4 years old and children ages 5 to 18 with certain medical conditions, the advisors recommended.

Studies show that seniors ages 65 and up are less likely than younger age groups to be infected by H1N1, but the CDC advisors recommended that this group receive the H1N1 vaccine once it’s given to the higher-risk groups.

So the H1N1 vaccine means no seasonal flu shot, right? Wrong! The H1N1 vaccine won’t replace the seasonal flu vaccine. It will still be important for you to get your yearly flu shot. But both vaccinations can be given on the same day, so once the H1N1 vaccine is ready and it’s your turn, you may not even have to make two trips.

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1 comment:

tingstick said...

I hate to say it, but I am not sure I want the vaccine. If it was so rushed, is it safe? I get my seasonal shot every year and I am still a bit freaked by the safety issue. I think a lot of people will have the same concern. Public health folks are going to have to do A LOT of work to address this early on, or the vaccine campaign will be a huge failure.